« PreviousContinue »
ness for preserving me from innumerable dangers of body and foul, to which this wretched life, but more particularly by my own youthful rashness and inconfideration, might have exposed me, had not thy Divine Providence interposed in such a wonderful manner, as justly challenges my deepest admiration and acknowledgment : particularly I am bound to bless thee for so timely nipping that ambition and vain-glory, which had hurried me through such scenes of impiety and hypocrisy, and as the most effectual antidote against it, next to thy divine grace, haft brought me not only to prefer, but to delight in a state of obscurity and lowness of circumstances, as the furest harbour of peace and safety; by which, though the little I have left in my poffeffion be dwindled to so little value as to be but a poor acknowledgement for the services which I have received from my friend hereafter named, to whom I can do no less than bequeath it all, yet I hope the will may be accepted for the deed, and that the Divine Providence will supply to her what is wanting in
And now, O Father of Mercies, I beseech thee for thy dear Son's sake, so to direct me by thy grace through all the future concerns of this life, that when, where, or in what manner foever it shall please thee to call me out of it, I may be found ready and willing to return my foul, worthless as it is of itself, to thee who gaveft it ; and my death, as well as my latter end, may be such as may tend all possible ways to thy glory, the edification of thy church, and my own eternal comfort. And in hopes there is nothing in this my last will that is not agreeable to thine, I leave it to be executed after my death by my worthy and pious friend Sarah Rewalling, of this parish of St. Luke, in Middlesex, in the manner hereafter mentioned, viz.
• I desire that my body, when or wherever I die, may be kept so long above ground, as decency or conveniency will permit, and afterwards conveyed to the common burying-ground, and there interred in some obscure corner of it, without any further ceremony or formality than is used to the bodies of the deceased pensioners where I happen to die, and about the same time of the day, and that the whole may be performed in the lowest and cheapest manner. And it is
And it is my earnest request, that my body be not inclosed in any kind of coffin, but only decently Jaid in what is called a shell of the lowest value, and without lid or other covering which may hinder the natural earth from covering it all around.
The books relating to the Universal History, and belonging to the Proprietors, are to be returned to them according to the true list of them, which will be found in a blue paper in my account book. All the rest being my own property, together with
all my houfhold goods, wearing apparel, and whatever money shall be found due to me after my decease, I give and bequeath to my friend Sarah Rewalling above named, together with such manuscripts as I had written at different times, and designed to be made public, if they shall be deemed worthy of it, they confisting of sundry essays on some difficult parts of the Old Testa. ment, and chiefly written for the use of a young Clergyman in the country, and so unhappily acquainted with that kind of learning, that he was likely to become the butt of his sceptical parishioners, but being, by this means furnished with proper materials, was enabled to turn the tables upon them.
• But the principal manuscript I thought myself in duty bound to leave behind, is a faithful narrative of my education, and the sallies of my wretched youthful years, and the various ways by which I was in some measure unavoidably led into the base and Thameful imposture of paffing upon the world for a native of Formosa, and a convert to Christianity, and backing it with a fi&titious account of that island, and of my own travels, converfion, &c. all or most of it hatched in my own brain, without regard to truth and honesty. It is true, I have long since difclaimed even publicly all but the shame and guilt of that vile imposition, yet as long as I knew there were still two editions of that fcandalous romance remaining in England, besides the several versions it had abroad, I thought it incumbent upon me to undeceive the world, by unravelling that whole mystery of iniquity in a posthumous work, which would be less liable to fufpicion, as the author would be far out of the influence of any finister motives that might induce him to deviate froin the truth. All that I fall add concerning it is, that it was began above twenty-five years ago with that view, and no other, during a long recess in the country, accompanied with a threatening dif ease, and since then continued in my most serious hours, as any thing new presented itself; fo that it hath little else to recommend itself but its plainness and sincerity, except here and there fome useful observations, and innuendoes on those branches of learning in which I had been concerned, and particularly with such excellent improvements as might be made in the method of learning of Hebrew, and in the producing a more perfect body of Universal History, and more answerable to its title than that which hath already passed a second edition. And thefe, I thought, might be more deserving a place in that narrative, as the usefulness of them would in a great measure make amends for the small charge of the whole. If it therefore shall be judged, worth printing, † desire it may be sold to the higheft bidder, in order to pay my arrears for my lodgings, and to defray my funeral; and I further request that it be printed in the plain and
undisguised manner in which I have written it, and without alteration or embellifhment. I hope the whole is written in the true, sincere spirit of a person awakened by a miracle of mercy, unto a deep sense of his folly, guilt, and danger, and is desirous, above all things, to give God the whole glory of so gracious a change, and to thew the various steps by which his Divine Providence brought it about. The whole of the account countains fourteen pages of Preface, and about ninetythree more of the said relation, written in my own hand with a proper title, and will be found in the deep drawer on the right hand of my white cabinet. However, if the obfcurity I have lived in, during such a series of years, should make it needless to revive a thing in all likelihood so long since forgot, I cannot but with, that so much of it was published in some weekly paper, as might inform the world, especially those who have still by them the above-mentioned fabulous account of the Illand of Formoła, &c. that I have long since owned both in conversation and in print, that it was no other than a mere forgery of my own devising, a scandalous impofition on the public, and fuch, as I think myself bound to beg God and the world pardon for writing, and have been long since, as I am to this day, and shall be as long as I live, heartily sorry for, and alhamed of.
· These I do hereby folemnly declare 'and testify to be my Jaft Will and Testament; and in witness thereof have thereto set my name, on the 23d day of April, in the year of our Lord 1752, 0. S. and in the 73d year of my age.
G. Pfalmanazar. « The last Will and Testament of G. Pfalmanazar, of Ironmonger-Row, in the Parish of St. Luke, Middlesex, whenever it lhall please God to take him out of this world unto himself.
· January 1, 1762, being the day of the Circumcision of our divine Lord, then, blessed be God, quite found in my mind, though weak in my body, I do ratify and confirm the above particulars of my
last Will made.' In his Preface, the Author expatiates farther on his design in leaving behind him his genuine memoirs ; to which he declares he was solely induced, in order at once to undeceive the world with respect to that vile and romantic account he formerly gave of himself, and of the illard of Formosa, and to make all the amends in his power for that shameful imposition on the public, by this faithful narrative of himself, and of the remarkable accidents of his wretched life.' The religious education he had happily received during his
tender years, had, he says, made so strong an impresion upon his mind, that though it did not prove sufficient to preserve him from being hurried by his passions, into that scandalous piece of forgery, yet it never failed of making him condemn himself, in his more serious hours, for every step he took towards it ; but more particularly for the last and most vile scene of all, his
pretended conversion from heatheni'm to christianity : fo that he laboured ever after, under frequent and bitter remorses, and stings of conscience. --At length, we are told, the grace of God (which he most earnestly befought) co-operating with his remorse of conscience, wrought an effe&tual change in his heart, removed all his doubts and fears, his difficulties and discouragements, and finally enabled him to persevere in his resolution and endeavours to give mankind the most ample satisfaction in his power, for all the deceit and fallhood by which he had so egregiously imposed on their credulity.
The remainder of his long preface, of 63 pages, is employed in reciting the particulars of his Conversion (after he came to reside in this country) from the Roman Catholic Religion, to that of the Church of England : in which relation, to do him justice, he shews the utmost candour of difpofition, and talks Iike a man of sense, learning, and integrity.
He begins his Narrative with an apology for not giving
an account either of his real country or family, or any thing that might cast a reflection upon either.' In respect to his family, his reserve might, no doubt, be well excused; but in regard to his country, we think it was carrying his delicacy very far indeed! However, he might have his reasons, besides what he alleges, as to the aptness of people to censure nations or families, for the crimes of private persons; from the consideration of which, he fays, he was induced to conceal this circumstance of birth and parentage. The most that he vouchsafes to communicate on this head, is the acknowlegement that out of Europe he was not born, nor educated, nor ever travelled ; but continued in some of the southern parts of it, till about the fixteenth year of his age, when necessity obliged him to remove into the more northern ones, tho' never farther northward than the Rhine in Germany *, or Yorkshire in England.' This, at least, may serve to convince us, that he was not the famous wan
* As to Germany, the author declares he never saw that country till he was 16, nor England till about 2 or 3 years after.
+ The vulgar might pe: haps be induced to form this conjecture, from his venerable long beard, and singular garb; beside which he had other peculiarities about him, all calculated to keep up the appearance of a most mysterious secrecy: but the general notion that he understood all languages, and had visited all countries, more especially contributed to prove him the rery identical wandering Jew.
dering Fiw, as some of his acquaintance, of the wiser fort, used to suspect.
He purposely mentions his being a native of some country in the southern parts of Europe, in order to set aside a prevailing notion, that he was a German, Swede, or Dane, according to fome; or in the opinion of others, an Englishman, or a Scot.On the whole, we think it not unreasonable to conjecture, with the author of an advertisement prefix'd to this book, that Mr. **** was a Frenchman. One circumstance leading to this conclusion, is, that he spoke the French language with a purity beyond what is usual when attained only by grammar, or travel; but with a dath of the Gascoin dialect : in which he was so masteriy, that none but those born in the country could equalnone, tho' born there, could excel him. For tho' it may be elteemed but a patois, or jargon, yet foreigners find it impracticable to speak it with that propriety, Auency, and vivacity, peculiar to those people. And from this we presume that some part of Languedoc may lay claim to his birth.' But there are pallages enough in the Memoirs themselves, to put this matter almost beyond a doubt.
* As for my parents and relations, says he, they were Roman Catholics, and trongly biased against all Protestants. My father was of an ancient, but decayed family, and had been obliged to leave my mother before I was five years old, and to live near five hundred miles from her, whilst she was left to live and breed me up upon her small fortune, without receiving any assistance from him, his misfortunes having put it quite out of his power to contribute any thing ; so that I was wholly left to her care. However, neither that, nor the narrowners of her circumstances, hindered her from giving me the best education the could, being then her only surviving child. She was a pious good woman in her way, and though I was no small favourite of hers, was yet kept with due strictness whilft I staid with her, which was however but a short time, and do not remember that I had then any the least vicious inclination, nor in all likelihood might have had, had I still continued under her wing; whereas through the mismanagement of those first perfons to whose tuition I was next committed, such a wrong foundation was laid, and so strong a biass given me to vanity and self-conceit, as proved the unhappy fource of all my sad miscarriages since. 1. One general remark here I cannot avoid making concerning the schools of the Roman Catholics, viz. that all their students must learn to read, and even pray, in Latin, before they are capable of understanding one word of its for this doth but inure